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April In Paris
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Booker's Waltz
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Glyph
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I Love You
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Last Waltz
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Lonely Woman
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Where Are You?
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Blue Glass Music
Carol Morgan Quartet
Carol Morgan is one of my personal heroes. She has a way of making things happen. Blue Glass Music is a perfect example. She has assembled an impressive cast in Matt Wilson, Martin Wind, and Joel Frahm. Top names in New York’s current crop of jazz stars. Another example is her penchant for the group dynamic, minus a chordal instrument. The challenge of this setting can’t be over stated, but it becomes incidental, as those elements are never missed. That aspect can lend a stark quality occasionally, but these musicians know how to turn that to their advantage, mining those spaces for emotional depth. The opening track (I Love You) begins with a familiar melody, and one gets the impression that we might be about to hear a lovely, but perhaps safe reading of the Cole Porter chestnut. Gradually though, the group finds fresh, modern territory. Things percolate and morph into something new, yet never lose sight of the composer’s intent. This is certainly one of the group’s strengths. April in Paris pulls off the same sort of magic trick. With one foot in the past and another in the future, they can rock back and forth, dancing between the ages. This is no easy thing to do, but they make it seem so. Lonely Woman sounds as if the mournful American jazz horns are attending a native, African funeral. The bass and drums create an ethnic groove, but the horns remain ethereal. The effect is haunting. Booker’s Waltz swings hard, as it was meant to. Joel Frahm’s Glyph is an enigmatic odd meter vehicle. Tightly played ensemble passages give way to Carol’s rubato solo. She brings everyone back in, by quoting the melody in time. Really impressive ensemble work! I love the melodic interplay between Morgan and Frahm on Where Are You? They trade off playing melody and embellishment on the heads and solos. The result illustrates beautifully, why this group doesn’t need a piano or guitar. Frahm tips his hat to Ben Webster here and there. Martin Wind’s Last Waltz is a solemn and very personal tribute, and a beautiful end to this wonderfully engaging set. The day of this recording, Carol purchased a pair of sunglasses with blue tinted lenses. As she was en route to the studio on that beautiful spring day, the world took on a new look. The warm, sunny, vibrant colors were all shaded in a lovely and surprising way. She kept remarking about it, and one by one, the musicians all tried on the blue glasses. At some point, while listening to a playback, Carol remarked, “Blue Glass Music.” Just another example of why Carol Morgan is one of my heroes. That emotional availability, that “in the moment” mentality is exactly what makes her such a unique voice in jazz, and of course, exactly what we all should be striving for. It keeps me coming back again and again. Chris Cortez Blue Bamboo Music Inc
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